Making healthy diet choices can go a long way in protecting you from diseases and health issues like obesity, metabolic syndrome, high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease. Opting for a healthy and balanced diet can also help you manage autoimmune disorders better. Consuming brown rice is considered to be one of the healthiest diet choices today and there is a good reason behind it.

Brown rice is a whole grain packed with nutrients like dietary fiber, plant proteins and a few vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Unless you are on a low-carbohydrate diet, eating brown rice every day can improve many aspects of your health, from helping you maintain a healthy weight to giving your immune system a good boost. Read this article to find out the nutritional benefits and side effects of eating brown rice.

Did you know?

All rice starts out as brown rice. Simply put, brown rice refers to the type of rice grain from which only the hard hull is removed. The bran, germ and endosperm of this grain remain intact, which is the main reason why brown rice is considered to be more nutritious than most other rice varieties, especially white rice.

Some basic facts about brown rice:

  • Botanical name: Oryza sativa
  • Family: Poaceae
  • Common name: Rice, chawal
  • Sanskrit name: Vrihi, tandul, shali
  • Parts used: Whole grain
  • Native region and geographical distribution: Rice varieties are grown all over the world. India, Thailand, Bangladesh and Pakistan are the world’s largest brown rice producers. Thailand is the world’s largest brown rice exporter.
  1. Brown rice nutrition facts
  2. Brown rice health benefits
  3. Brown rice side effects
  4. Takeaways
  5. Doctors for Brown rice: nutrition facts, benefits and side effects

Although brown rice is categorized as a carbohydrate - and carbs get a very bad reputation for being unhealthy - this whole grain variety is surprisingly nutritious and therefore healthy. According to the US Department of Agriculture, the following are the nutritional facts for long-grain and cooked brown rice.

Nutrient Value per 100g
Water 70.27 g
Energy 123 kcal
Protein 2.74 g
Total lipid (fat) 0.97 g
Carbohydrate 25.58 g
Fiber 1.6 g
Starch 24.79 g
Vitamins  
Vitamin B3 (Niacin) 2.561 mg
Folate 9 µg
Minerals  
Calcium  3 mg
Magnesium 39 mg
Phosphorus 103 mg
Potassium 86 mg
Sodium 4 mg
Selenium 5.8 µg

Brown rice is a rich source of many nutrients, including dietary fiber, some B vitamins, potassium, manganese and calcium. Eating even a cup of brown rice every day can therefore provide your body with a number of vital nutrients you need for proper functioning. From improving your metabolism to ensuring your heart remains healthy, consuming brown rice can provide you with the following benefits.

Brown rice aids weight loss

Fiber-rich foods have the benefit of keeping you fuller for longer, which is something that can keep you from binge-eating and gaining excess weight. But this is not the only way eating brown rice can help you lose weight. Replacing refined grains and flours in your diet with brown rice can fulfil your carbohydrate needs while also ensuring that you can lose weight more easily. 

(Read more: How to lose weight fast and safely)

Brown rice reduces diabetes risk

The higher your carbohydrate intake, the higher the risk of developing diabetes. This is because most carbohydrate sources have a high glycemic index (GI), which suggests that eating these foods can raise your fasting blood sugar as well as postprandial or post-meal blood sugar levels. Eating any type of rice is usually not recommended if you have blood sugar problems like diabetes or prediabetes. However, brown rice has a lower GI than white rice at 68, so if you must eat rice, brown is the better option. 

(Read more: What to eat and what not to eat in diabetes)

Brown rice improves heart health

Consuming healthier sources of dietary fiber, protein and minerals can go a long way in ensuring that you stay free of heart diseases. Brown rice definitely fits this bill and is also known to reduce inflammation, cholesterol and blood pressure levels. These are some of the key risk factors for heart disease, so eating brown rice can keep your heart healthy and disease-free.

(Read more: Foods to reduce high cholesterol)

Brown rice is gluten-free

Gluten is a type of protein found in many whole grains like wheat, barley and rye. Many people are unable to digest gluten properly and it leads to allergies and even anaphylactic shock in severe cases. Brown rice, like most varieties of rice, is naturally gluten-free. This means that people with gluten intolerance, especially those with celiac disease and wheat allergy, can safely consume brown rice.

Brown rice prevents metabolic syndrome

As mentioned above, consuming brown rice can not only keep your blood sugar levels in check but also keep cholesterol, blood pressure and other metabolic factors within a healthy range too. This apart, brown rice is also packed with manganese. Manganese deficiency is particularly linked with a higher risk of metabolic syndrome incidence. Eating brown rice can then strengthen your metabolism in more than one way.

(Read more: Foods to reduce high blood pressure)

Brown rice is considered to be one of the healthiest rice varieties in the world and has many health benefits to impart. Yet, there are a few ways through which brown rice consumption could cause harm to your health too. The following are some such ways in which eating brown rice can negatively affect your health.

(Read more: White rice or brown rice, which is healthier?)

Brown rice may worsen digestive disorders

Brown rice is packed with fiber, which is ideal for you if you need to consume a high-fiber diet. However, there are many digestive disorders that require you to eat less fiber, including irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). If you have these conditions then avoiding brown rice might be best for you.

Brown rice may cause arsenic poisoning

Arsenic is a toxic element found in soil and groundwater, especially in areas where fertilizers are used extensively in agriculture. Consuming arsenic-contaminated food grains grown in such areas can cause arsenic poisoning. Rice cultivation is especially linked to arsenic contamination and poisoning and of all rice varieties, brown rice has the highest concentration of arsenic. It is therefore very important that you wash and cook brown rice properly to prevent or minimise arsenic poisoning.

Brown rice may worsen kidney disease

If you have kidney disease or are at risk of developing kidney problems, then you may have been told to watch your intake of some nutrients like phosphorus and potassium. Brown rice is rich in both these nutrients and so, consuming an excess of this grain may not be ideal for people with kidney disease. In fact, it may be preferable that you consume white rice instead of brown rice if you have kidney problems.

Brown rice is packed with vital nutrients that your body needs for your health, so replacing white rice in your diet with brown rice may be a great option for you. This is especially true if you are starting out on your weight loss journey and looking for healthier substitutes for everyday staples. Brown rice is also very easily available in the market no matter where you may be living.

However, you may want to consider getting a full check-up done before you make this choice as many people have digestive disorders that make the synthesis of brown rice more difficult. If you have such an undetected condition then consuming only brown rice in your diet may trigger flare-ups of IBS or IBD. Also, excessive consumption of anything can be bad. And where arsenic poisoning is concerned, you may want to keep a check on how much brown rice you are eating and if you are cooking it properly.

Dt. Akanksha Mishra

Dt. Akanksha Mishra

Nutritionist
8 Years of Experience

Surbhi Singh

Surbhi Singh

Nutritionist
22 Years of Experience

Dr. Avtar Singh Kochar

Dr. Avtar Singh Kochar

Nutritionist
20 Years of Experience

Dr. priyamwada

Dr. priyamwada

Nutritionist
7 Years of Experience

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References

  1. FoodData Central. United States Department of Agriculture. Washington D.C. USA; Rice, brown, long-grain, cooked
  2. Harvard T.H Chan. Harvard Medical School [Internet]. Harvard University, Cambridge. Massachusetts. USA; Rice.
  3. Jung, Su Jin. et al. Does Korean diet based on brown rice really have the effect on treating chronic diseases and on suspending drug use?. Journal of Ethnic Foods Volume 5, Issue 4, December 2018, Pages 231-238.
  4. Mohan, V. et al. Hurdles in Brown Rice Consumption. Brown Rice pp 255-269. 23 August 2017.
  5. Ravichanthiran, Keneswary. et al. Phytochemical Profile of Brown Rice and Its Nutrigenomic Implications. Antioxidants (Basel). 2018 Jun; 7(6): 71. PMID: 29789516
  6. Lee, Jae-Sung. et al. Brown Rice, a Diet Rich in Health Promoting Properties. J Nutr Sci Vitaminol (Tokyo) . 2019;65(Supplement):S26-S28. PMID: 31619639
  7. Malik, VS. et al. Substituting brown rice for white rice on diabetes risk factors in India: a randomised controlled trial. Br J Nutr. 2019 Jun; 121(12): 1389–1397. PMID: 31006420
  8. Kazemzadeh, Mahdieh. et al. Effect of Brown Rice Consumption on Inflammatory Marker and Cardiovascular Risk Factors among Overweight and Obese Non-menopausal Female Adults. Int J Prev Med. 2014 Apr; 5(4): 478–488. PMID: 24829736
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